All entries for February 2009
February 23, 2009
An Oscar Review from the last 10 years, by Unesco Nobel
- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Paramount & Warner Bros. - Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Cean Chaffin
- Frost/Nixon - Universal - Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Eric Fellner
- Milk - Focus Features - Dan Jinks, Bruce Cohen
- The Reader - The Weinstein Company - Anthony Minghella, Sydney Pollack, Donna Gigliotti, Redmond Morris
- Slumdog Millionaire - Fox Searchlight, Warner Bros., Pathe - Christian Colson
Only seen Milk and Slumdog, but Milk is 10 times the film Slumdog is.
- 2007 No Country for Old Men - Miramax & Paramount Vantage - Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
- Atonement - Focus Features - Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Paul Webster
- Juno - Fox Searchlight - Lianne Halfon, Mason Novick, Russell Smith
- Michael Clayton - Warner Bros. - Jennifer Fox, Kerry Orent, Sydney Pollack
- There Will Be Blood - Paramount Vantage & Miramax - Paul Thomas Anderson, Daniel Lupi, JoAnne Sellar
All four other films are worthier winners than the empty and vapid blandity of No Country For Old Men. Seen it three times, first time I fell asleep, other times I wish I had.
- 2006 The Departed - Warner Bros. - Graham King
- Babel - Paramount Vantage - Alejandro González Iñárritu, Steve Golin, Jon Kilik
- Letters from Iwo Jima - Warner Bros. - Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, Robert Lorenz
- Little Miss Sunshine - Fox Searchlight - David T. Friendly, Peter Saraf, Marc Turtletaub
- The Queen - Miramax - Andy Harries, Christine Langan, Tracey Seaward
Have not seen Iwo Jima. The Queen and Babel are only solid films, but still better than the festering pile of shite that is The Departed. A 5 year old could have written that film. Little Miss Sunshine is the stand out piece of genius from that list.
- 2005 Crash - Lions Gate - Paul Haggis, Cathy Schulman
- Brokeback Mountain - Focus Features - Diana Ossana, James Schamus
- Capote - United Artists & Sony Pictures Classics - Caroline Baron, William Vince, Michael Ohoven
- Good Night, and Good Luck. - Warner Bros. - Grant Heslov
- Munich - DreamWorks & Universal - Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy, Barry Mendel
Fell asleep during Capote, and have not seen Good Night and Good Luck. That said Munich is a good movie with one of the most amazing and powerful pieces of cinematography I have ever seen (the sex/kidnap juxtaposition scene), and Brokeback mountain is an excellent film. Both tower above Crash, which suffers from the Pulp Fiction "we don't really need a story, just chuck in a load of (not at all) interesting characters and people will care" syndrome.
- 2004 Million Dollar Baby - Warner Bros. - Clint Eastwood, Albert S. Ruddy, Tom Rosenburg
- The Aviator - Miramax & Warner Bros. - Michael Mann, Graham King
- Finding Neverland - Miramax - Richard N. Gladstein, Nellie Bellflower
- Ray - Universal - Taylor Hackford, Stuart Benjamin, Howard Baldwin
- Sideways - Fox Searchlight - Michael London
It literally hurts my soul that Million Dollar Baby won an Oscar. This was the start of the malaise, the current bad streak, and what a start. I wish I had fallen asleep - oh, for the comforts of the land of nod that Capote and No Country For Old Men provided, rather than the stale and fetid turd of canned manipulative emotion and shitty, unengaging dialogue and action that characterise this film. Ray was passable, though still not Oscar worthy, and I can't claim to have seen The Aviator, Finding Neverland or Sideways, but I find it hard to believe that none of those three is better than Million Dollar Baby...
2000-2003 marked a good streak for the Academy.
- 1999 American Beauty - DreamWorks SKG - Bruce Cohen, Dan Jinks
- The Cider House Rules - Miramax - Richard N. Gladstein
- The Green Mile - Castle Rock Entertainment, Warner Bros. - Frank Darabont, David Valdes
- The Insider - Touchstone Pictures - Pieter Jan Brugge, Michael Mann
- The Sixth Sense - Hollywood Pictures - Frank Marshall, Kathleen Kennedy, Barry Mendel
American Beauty is a very good film. In most years, I would not have contested its place as an Oscar winner. But the Green Mile is a work of absolute cinematic majesty, and all those involved can feel justifiedly robbed, even if by such a staunch contender as American Beauty.
- 1998 Shakespeare in Love - Miramax, Universal - David Parfitt, Donna Gigliotti, Harvey Weinstein, Edward Zwick, Marc Norman
- Elizabeth - PolyGram Filmed Entertainment - Shekhar Kapur, Alison Owen, Eric Fellner, Tim Bevan
- Life Is Beautiful (La vita è bella) - Miramax - Elda Ferri, Gianluigi Braschi
- Saving Private Ryan - DreamWorks SKG, Paramount - Steven Spielberg, Ian Bryce, Mark Gordon, Gary Levinsohn
- The Thin Red Line - 20th Century Fox - Robert Michael Geisler, John Roberdeau, Grant Hill
However much love I harbour for Shakespeare, Saving Private Ryan is one of the finest war movies ever made. Shakespeare in Love is an above average rom-com. The difference in comparison to the rest of their respective genres alone should make Saving Private Ryan the clear choice, let alone the direct comparison between the films. I haven't seen La Vita E Bella all the way through, but, by reputation alone, it may well also be a challenger.
From 1998-2007, the Oscars are 4 from 10. We can only hope for better form this time round...
February 06, 2009
Oops, he did it again!
Oh look, Clarkson said something vaguely offensive. Now where's that bandwagon gone?
Quite apart from the fact that, like Brand and Ross, Clarkson's humour and style is well-established, and you'd have to be an idiot not to know it by now, there is slightly more ammunition this time round, what with Top Gear supposedly being a family show. It's not like he swore though, and people who watch the BBC would do well to remember that a) they don't have to watch, b) the BBC is a bus, not a taxi, and c) a lot of people do find him funny. Obviously, it's hard to see how Gordon's Nelsonian tendencies are relevant to his financial and economic nous, although one might, if one were playing on stereotypes (like the prostitute-murdering lorry driver), say that, being a Scot, he's likely to spend all the countries money on booze, or something equally bland. As it is, it's a funny sounding phrase, on a purely sonic, basically linguistic level, which he almost certainly didn't think through, and has apologised for. I still laughed though.
I also have to take issue with some of the reaction, specifically this obviously ridiculous and illogical generalisation:
"But the Royal National Institute for Blind People called the comment was offensive.
"Any suggestion that equates disability with incompetence is totally unacceptable" said chief executive Lesley-Anne Alexander"
Oh really? So if I were to equate paralysis with incompetence in the field of movement, or cystic fibrosis with incompetence at physically rigorous tasks, or blindness with incompetence at driving a truck or piloting a fighter jet, or a subnormal IQ with being a teacher, that would be totally unacceptable? The clue is in the FUCKING WORD! DIS-abled. Meaning there are things which they are NOT ABLE TO DO, at least, in the normal method of doing them. Whatever moral, social or other considerations follow from that are irrelevant - it is clearly idiotic to claim that equating a disability with an incompetence to achieve something is logically coherent in various situations. It is unacceptable to say that a person with a disability would be necessarily be less competent at things not directly affected by their ability, and there are obviously ways in which some people can overcome their disabilities, perhaps even improve on the normal (e.g. Scott Rigbsy). But the statement says "any suggestion". It's almost worse than Clarkson's, because she's a chief executive and has had time to think about it, and yet still come out with a statement that is clearly, demonstrably and logically BULLSHIT!
Also, I hate snow, if you didn't know already. But even more than that, I hate wankers like Simon Fanshawe who think it's alright for kids to lob snowballs at random strangers. Errr, not it's fucking well not, nor is it your Twelfth Night style night of anarchy, your pretentious cunt. It's an invasion of my personal space, my right to choose whether to interact with the snow or not. And since I am obviously (to anyone that knows me) going to choose not to, I don't fucking think it's anyone's right to force it on me regardless, child or not. In my first year, some wankers hurled a snowball the size of my head out of a car window while doing about 30 miles per hour, which hit me between the chest and the face and knocked me on my ass. As Judi James says in the article above, "some adults feel it demeans their dignity". I'll lighten up when I choose to lighten up, before anyone throws the inevitable and tired barb of me taking everything so seriously. It's my choice when to throw what little dignity I have to the wind, not some kid I don't know with a hand full of compacted ice, and not some probably student twats in a car who, being at Warwick, should probably know better...